OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. - Three Lake Tahoe-area men have been arrested in connection with 200 plants worth an estimated $750,000 that were seized in the Deep Creek Drainage area north of Olympic Valley.
Two of the men - Christopher Egger, 23, and Matthew Steele, 28 - reside in Tahoe City. The third man - 48 year-old Steven Day - lives in Olympic Valley, better known for the Squaw Valley USA ski resort.
Placer County Sheriff's Department investigators arrested the trio on Thursday, Oct. 1, on three felony counts each - marijuana cultivation, possession of marijuana for sale and conspiracy to sell. The three were arrested near the site without incident.
Sgt. John Giovannini, a detective with PCSD in Tahoe City, said the department found the farm weeks ago while surveying the area by helicopter, and officers continued surveillance prior to Thursday's arrests.
"The grows were near a drainage area so they could irrigate their plants," Giovannini said.
Officers found nonnative soil that had been brought into the area for the plantation, along with hundreds of yards of plastic irrigation hose used to drain water to the cultivated area from a nearby stream, Giovannini said.
No evidence suggests the men were living at the site, and they were not armed while cultivating the plants, Giovannini said.
The bust comes at the peak of California's marijuana harvest season, though most illegal farms typically occur in warmer climes near the Northern California coast and valley areas and not this far inland, according to the California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement.
Western Nevada County in the San Juan Ridge area is another productive region, called "the Emerald Triangle."
"We were actually surprised they took so long to harvest it after the bit of snow we got last week," Giovannini said.
The arrests led officers back to Egger's Tahoe City home, where they found processed marijuana, the amount of which was factored into the total amount seized.
North Lake Tahoe Bonanza reporter Kyle Magin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.